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GALLERY: 20th anniversary of Govanhill Baths occupation to be marked with special events

It spanned 140 days and was to become one of the most effective and celebrated community protests ever mounted in Scotland.

Exactly 20 years on, a neighbourhood’s fight to save public baths in the southside of Glasgow – including a landmark takeover of the building – will be hailed in a programme of special events.

The campaign to save the pool in Govanhill was launched on January 17 2001, two days after Kingston Swimming Club received notice the city council intended to close the building.

This sparked the longest ever occupation of a public building in British history as a community campaign to reclaim and then restore the pool began.

On March 21 2001, protesters entered and occupied the Edwardian bathhouse. They would remain there for 140 days until August, when a sheriff and mounted police were ordered to end the protest.

Twenty years on and the Calder Street venue is approaching a long-awaited refurbishment into a community and well-being centre. The pandemic has caused delays but Govanhill Baths Community Trust hopes to have work completed in 2022.

Fatima Uygun, manager of the Trust, said: “Individuals coming together in a common cause have real power and so does a community. Govanhill came together to save its pool and Govanhill won.

“I’m really excited to be celebrating this in 2021 as work begins on the refurbishment.”

To celebrate the start of one of the most powerful stories of community action in Scotland’s history, the Trust is staging a programme of events throughout the year.

The Save Our Pool History Group was launched on Facebook last week to reunite those involved in the original protests 20 years ago.

On Our Streets: Protest and Celebration will use the 24-hour picket outside the baths during the occupation as a starting point to explore the significance of public streets as triggers for change.

This will take place throughout March with a major event planned for the 21st when local people will be encouraged to root out their pots and pans and make some noise for Govanhill, alongside Save Our Pool songs from the original Save Our Pool campaign.

Occupy Occupy Occupy!!! is a project that explores occupations as an effective tactic in industrial, community, student and environmental disputes.

2021 also marks the anniversary of a number of other notable occupations in the central belt of Scotland including the 50th anniversary of the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders; 40th anniversary of Lee Jeans and the 25th anniversary of the Kinning Park Complex.

Depending on funding, event organisers hope to commission a commemorative banner, organise a conference, carry out school workshops with learning packs and publish a graphic novel.

The full programme of events will be launched at the end of this month.